A wedding ceremony that took place earlier this month violated Maine’s gathering advice, and now more than 85 cases of the coronavirus have been traced back to it.
According to Newsweek, the wedding ceremony caused a COVID-19 outbreak that spread across counties and reaching both a jail and a rehabilitation center.
The wedding took place on August 7 at a church in Millinocket and a reception that followed at Big Moose Inn. As a result, the virus rapidly spreads across the state.
“Overall there are now 87 cases associated with this outbreak,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in a virtual press briefing yesterday, adding the situation could still “spiral.”
Once authorities were able to link the wedding as ground zero and realized it got far beyond the local community.
“The 87 includes not just those who attended gatherings… in Millinocket, the wedding and the reception, it also includes nine cases at Maple Crest Rehabilitation facility in Madison, as well as cases associated with York County Jail,” Shah said.
“Because we have identified an epidemiological link between and among all of these cases they constitute a single outbreak, even though the complexion of that outbreak has changed and it looks different in different parts of the state,” he added.
Officials are still looking to the couple who got married, but right now, the main focus is to slow down the spread.
Shah added, “It can spiral. That’s what concerns me right now. That 80-plus cases could keep growing and growing and growing. That’s a risk right now.” Of the 87 cases reported, 30 were from people who directly attended the event. Another 35 were secondary cases, people who were in contact with those that attended. And 22 tertiary cases, which are people that came into contact with the second group.
As we know, some people can be asymptomatic, but 59 of the people that contracted the virus showed symptoms. Nine cases found their way into the Maple Crest Rehabilitation facility, and 18 others were found inside the York County Jail via staff member.
The CDC director addressed the two factors that drive the potential of an outbreak of the novel virus, and that’s by the duration and density of an event.
“What we saw here was an event, a wedding and then a reception, so a long-duration event with a fair number of individuals, greater than the 50 that are allowed… when we see those two factors combine… we see the potential for outbreaks.”
The venue has responded and says it made an error when interpreting state’s rule on social distancing.
“We understood that there could be no more than 50 persons in our largest room. We did make an error in the interpretation of that rule. Our interpretation was that we could take a wedding party of more than 50 persons, and split them between two rooms as long as it didn’t exceed our total capacity or a specific room’s capacity,” the venue said in a statement. “The state — perhaps, rightfully so — assumes that individuals from a larger group would ignore the room restrictions, and take the opportunity to co-mingle. Our interpretation of the rule put the Big Moose Inn in violation of the gathering of people over the maximum number allowed by Maine DECD guidelines.”